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Messages - Nicole@CSC

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Writers' Cafe / Re: How do I make an illustrated book cover?
« on: January 05, 2018, 10:22:28 AM »
Adobe Illustrator is the industry standard for vectors/illustrations. You can also pull them into photoshop, but Illustrator is the better tool for the job. 

Last chance to win a free custom cover from me. I am selecting a winner Jan. 1, so if you can use this, please don't miss out! Odds are looking good right now.  :)

To enter, make sure you've liked Cover Shot Creation's FB page (here) and post there what genre of book you'd like to use it on. Easy peasy.

If you don't win, don't worry. I am still taking on a few more custom cover clients. And, as always, premades are still available as well. Any of my covers can have a backcover and spine added down the line, along with audio cover, 3D images, website or FB banners, box sets, ect.

New premades are up!! To check them out, visit my website ( I also have the latest up on my brand new FB page

Speaking of FB pages, I am still running the FREE custom cover deal.  :) To enter, make sure you've liked Cover Shot Creation's FB page (here) and post there what genre of book you'd like to use it on. That's it. Simple as that.

Winner will be selected January 1.

Writers' Cafe / Re: KBoards off-site links broken???
« on: December 18, 2017, 12:23:29 PM »
No issues here. I've been clicking on book covers in signatures and assorted links and haven't noticed an issue.

Hope you find a solution!

Thank you! Best case is it's just an issue on my end. Appreciate you checking.

Writers' Cafe / KBoards off-site links broken???
« on: December 18, 2017, 12:17:28 PM »
Is anyone else experiencing difficulties getting links on KBoards to work? All of my previously working ones are sending me to a blank page when I click them now. I've tested a few other links of other's and am having the same issue.

Did something change recently, is this a temporary glitch, or is this something only on my side?

Thanks for looking.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Series book cover designs? Where?
« on: December 12, 2017, 05:28:24 PM »
It wouldn't violate the standard license agreement if he was providing all the stock, and only using the template for his own series of books.

For example, Shutterstock is pretty point blank in requiring an extended image license for any digital templates you sell, ie, exactly what our OP is asking for here. 1.a.ii.4 Incorporated as elements of digital templates for sale or distribution

I'm not a lawyer, but I wouldn't touch it with a ten-foot pole, at least not without extended licenses. Even then you have to be very careful that no images can be extracted.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Series book cover designs? Where?
« on: December 12, 2017, 03:42:02 PM »
If all the OP is asking for is a text layout that he can swap pictures in and out of at will, there's no need for extended licenses. He could buy his own pics at for a very reasonable price, and then just change the title/sub-title/book # without changing the layout, and he'd be all set. And there are plenty of good free fonts that the OP could download and use without running into any trouble. Having said that, there are two main reasons you won't find a lot of cover designers willing to offer something like this. First, and I know this is going to sound mercenary, we'd be screwing ourselves out of repeat business. And second, most designers don't like to just grab a picture and slap text on top of it. We'll add overlays and other resources that we've bought, and are not free to give these away to other people in a file they can be extracted from.

Side note about fonts: fonts are not embedded in a PSD file (unless they're rasterized, which renders the words unchangeable), they're installed on a computer. So I could use my most expensive commercial font, pass off the PSD file to someone else, and they wouldn't be able to do anything with that font unless they've bought that font and installed it on their own computer.

If all he wants is text over a single image, that's not a series template. He mentioned wanting to change the foreground image and title, ect. Now THAT is a true template. And if he has an adjustable template with layers, that definitely violates standard license legal uses. They are pretty clear about template uses. Not to mention that a designer wouldn't even know how many times to license the other images used in the template, since you wouldn't know how many covers will be made from it, and if those images are extractable, that's another violation.

It's just messy and the risk is not worth the reward. As mentioned above, yes, selling PSD files would cut into repeat business, but not enough to justify saying no. I would love to offer it, as there is a lot of interest, but the potential of losing my business and putting all my past clients at risk is a good enough reason not to.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Series book cover designs? Where?
« on: December 12, 2017, 01:27:12 PM »
Hi CEMartin2!

That is a tough request. I sell custom series and series premades (, but the type of template you are asking for requires very expensive extended licenses from any stocksite images used. Same with fonts, ect. Once a designer gives out an actual template that the author themselves can change, it changes the license requirements and the price significantly.

However, if you have the original "template" designer make those adjustments for you (new title/background), never giving you the PSD files, they can stay with standard licenses and charge only a minimal fee for their time and the relicensing of each image that's used (yes, every photo needs to be relicensed for each book).

I wish I had an easier answer for you, but hopefully that helps explain why you don't see designers sell templates for stuff like this.

Let me know if there's any way I can help.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Fantasy Cover Art?
« on: December 11, 2017, 03:54:48 PM »
I'm looking for a cover designer... who is an artist?

EDIT: On a related note, I have noticed there are some really amazing artists out there designing covers, but their typography is not so great. Haven't found anyone yet that does just the typography. Any suggestions there?

A good majority of cover designers will do typography only, if asked. I know I have it listed on my services page as something I offer. I don't know of anyone who does ONLY typography. It's usually cover design/typography, and you more commonly get artists who do the art only and no typography.

Some are great at both though, but they are a different skill set.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Adult Coloring Books & Stock Images
« on: December 11, 2017, 10:27:24 AM »
I think that would be a question better directed to the customer service department of specific stock sites. They don't all have the same licensing terms, so what might be acceptable for one might not be acceptable for another.

This. But when I very briefly looked into it, you could use the standard license for the cover and the enhanced licence for the inside content on MOST of the sites I checked out. Not all of them though. Keep in mind a few of them still required you to do something to the inside content to change/use it. You couldn't just slap it up as is. Some sites would let you, but others would not.

As mentioned above, Shutterstock is an excellent place to start. They are pretty clear on their usage and a nice site to work with. Not the cheapest though.

Good luck!

went there, did that. Shared it.

Thank you, and good luck!

Hi everyone! I have finally decided to take the plunge and jump in the Facebook waters.  :o I wanted to make it a little easier on those authors who are already on FB. Now they can check out my latest premades without having to leave the site.

Anyhow, if you have any desire to support this crazy notion, I would absolutely love it if you popped on over and gave my page a like. You can find me here.

Oh, and as an added bonus, I'm giving away a custom cover for your efforts.  :) Don't need a custom? You can pick 4 premades instead.

To enter, make sure you've liked Cover Shot Creation's FB page and posted there what genre of book you'd like to use it on. :-) Winner will be selected January 1.

She's advertised recently here at Kboards. I'd try another email to make sure everything went through ok. It's a pretty hectic time of year. ;-)

Even before the latest shenanigans I was considering proposing the setting up of an AID fund (Authors in Distress) in the hope of raising a pool of cash that could be overseen by trustees.

The main reason for formalising fund raising (in my mind, at least) was to open up avenues to authors (hopefully some big Indie names) getting together and donating a title or two for AID Box Sets with all profits going to the fund. Sets of say three books could be produced in different genres. There might be legal implications, I don't know but I thought it worth seeking your views on this.

For clarity, I'm UK based.

I was kind of wondering about something like this myself. I know there is PPA for photographers, which provides very reasonable insurance for not just equipment damage, but getting sued as well (angry brides anyone?!?).

Are there any author groups that offer something similar? Affordable liability insurance perhaps, specifically geared toward and made up of authors that include indie authors of all genres?

For quick look of what I'm talking about:

Need a last minute cover before the Christmas rush? Look no further. I've decided to open up a few custom slots, starting immediately. These are dates I had reserved for an out of town trip that is no longer happening. My loss, your gain.  ;)

Don't need a custom, but still need a quick holiday cover? Feel free to check out my latest set of winter/holiday premades (To view them go here to

Both premade covers and my custom cover bookings are on a first come, first served basis. Once your downpayment is in, you're scheduled. For quickest responses, please email me at I love hearing from you!  :)

Writers' Cafe / Re: 123rf Attribution for Book Covers
« on: November 22, 2017, 12:30:52 PM »
Maybe those are their "rules", but editorial usage normally indicates a non-commercial (i.e. news and information) usage.
That usage also does not need a model or location release.
Since editorial usage is usually paid at a lower rate the deal is sweetened by including a photo credit.
It has been this way since before the internet was invented.

Of course, it's always possible the phone person was mistaken, and by "books" they actually mean inclusion of photos inside books (which will fall under editorial usage) rather than covers of books (using a non-editorial only image) and paying the price for commercial usage.

This. Exactly, this. I've worked in the publishing industry for some time now. Fiction books are not editorial use. They are commercial. 

To be fair though, 123RF has always had some of the worst license agreements in the industry. They are one of the few I would never use for stock images. Their agreements have improved since the beginning of the Indie book boom (still terrible), but they are usually the last to adopt changes that positively effect book covers.

I would look for those images you've already used and source them from another company. Most photographers use more than one stock site to sell their stock photos.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Cover model stock photo search tips please!
« on: November 17, 2017, 02:27:08 PM »
Finding the right images on stock sites take up half of my time when creating good covers. It takes some dedication.

One trick is, you don't look for the perfect photo. You look for the photo/photos that can be made perfect.

Body positioning and facial expressions are two things that are best left alone, ie not manipulated later. Sometimes I add clothes to that list, depends on how specific the clothing request is. Hair, skin color, what a person's holding, all of those are minor details that can be easily manipulated later. I never toss out great photos based on those details. That rough guideline opens up a lot more photos to work with.

Second, I use whichever stock site is most likely to have the style of image I'm looking for. They can vary quite a bit in this area. I have a small list of stock sites that I will use/will not use based on their license agreements and from there have worked with each of them enough to know what kind of photos they learn towards. For example, period images was mentioned above. It's expensive and worth it if you need a more unique, historical romance photo. They have other things, but really hold their own if you need those old style clothes.

Third, not all stock sites' search engines are created equal. Often I will search for an image on Shutterstock and purchase it later on Depositphotos. Depositphotos is not guaranteed to have all the same photos as Shutterstock, but there is a lot of overlap on those two, with Depositphotos being the more money-conscious choice.

Fourth, the find similar images option is your friend. Lots of dead ends and lots of gems are found this way. You just have to be willing to keep clicking next page.

I suggest either hiring a good image manipulator to make a passable photo perfect, or be a bit more flexible on your cover. Custom photo shoots are always an option, but you're still going to have to comb through models and costumes to fit your needs, not to mention the cost is very high. For the most part, your cover just has to be true to genre and draw potential readers in.

Good luck!

Hang in there, Christina. <3 I know these things can really drain a person. Just remember, you're doing the right thing and standing for a lot of people who couldn't do it themselves.

Just wanted to bring the donation link to the forefront, so those who want easy access to it don't have to hunt it down:

Please correct me if this isn't the most current link.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Yea or Nay for a first book cover?
« on: November 04, 2017, 04:33:29 PM »
My deadlines are self imposed.  How pricey are the illustrated ones?

It really depends on the designer you go with and what kind of illustration you have done (how complex/how many unique ships/characters). My best estimate is on average you will spend about 4 times as much for a custom illustration than you will a custom photomanipulation. It will be harder to find a good illustrated premade, but stellar premade photomanips will cost you far less and buy you time if you want to keep those self imposed deadlines.

A really rough estimate is $600 on the low side for custom illustration on up to the thousands. It's not a service I provide (I enjoy cozy mystery vectors, but not full blown illustration work), but there are some excellent artists on K-boards that do. Several that come highly recommended.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Yea or Nay for a first book cover?
« on: November 04, 2017, 03:40:40 PM »
Way too late in the fall to get someone most likely without paying through the nose.  Probably need a January or later release.

Not necessarily. I, like most cover designers, do get the occasional cancellation. People run out of money and have to postpone, real life happens and they have to rebook a later date, ect. There's always a chance you could grab one of those spots with a designer.

Honestly, you're probably best off going with a nice premade if you're going up against deadlines. Get something that is genre specific and looks professional. That is the most important part. Booking someone for a custom illustration would be ideal, but that takes more money and more time. The right premade could get you through, and there are some really budget friendly ones out there that are going to do you a lot more favors than your current one.

Good luck!   

Writers' Cafe / Re: The BEST cover artist?
« on: November 01, 2017, 10:56:12 AM »
It's not always the designer's choice what goes on the cover. If the client asks for pretty people, the designer is going to give them pretty people.

This. So much this. I try to point my clients in a direction that will enable their book to sell. But that's not every author's main goal. I have to respect that it might be more important to them to have the "right" cover from their mind and not necessarily the best marketing cover.

Unfortunately, this can lead to a few covers that my clients are thrilled with, but I wouldn't say is my proudest work. But at least they're happy, and I've provided the service they wanted. At the end of the day, that's what really matters.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Westerns
« on: August 29, 2017, 02:50:43 PM »
Western readers are indeed very loyal. I was always under the impression that's what made it such a tough genre to break in to. They like their Louis L'Amour and nothing more.

Would love to hear more from local K-board authors who have given real westerns a solid go. I say real westerns as western romances are really a different beast that doesn't seem to follow the same rules or have many overlapping readers.

When I had more of a focus on producing western covers/premades, I was in touch with quite a few western authors. Most of them switched to a different genre right away or quit altogether.

It's always a guess why those things happen, but I always wondered if it had more to do with the genre than the authors. Either way, I found I could sell any other genre cover 10x faster - for what that's worth.

Would be amazing if westerns made a major comeback. I'm with Jim, and was totally expecting it after some of the latest movie releases.

Writers' Cafe / Re: What do Authors want from Book Cover designers
« on: July 12, 2017, 03:54:10 PM »
I like the jpg/png idea. I don't really need or want the PSD files, but not knowing what to ask for and the designer not offering a practical solution to the licensing problem is hardly my fault. They are the professionals, after all. Or claim to be.

I have never used a cover designer who wasn't highly recommended by others, either here on KBoards or in other author forums. How, then, am I supposed to intuit that they aren't professional or reliable? Plenty of people who have been reliable for years suddenly become unreliable, so basing my professional relationship on that kind of trust would be folly. I trust my formatter, but I end up with the files, too.

As to paying what the designer is worth, I have always paid whatever a designer (who has been pre-identified to be in my price range) has asked, and if the person wants more for more work, I'm willing to pay that, too. Money has nothing to do with the issue of not having access to cover art elements after a professional relationship has ended. For me, money has never been the issue that ended such a relationship, either.

As much as I hate to say this, there are some price points that are well known for disappearing. That's a risk you take when you go to cheaper designers. Some hang in there for a year, maybe two, but that's about how long it takes for them to get flooded with clients, burned out and realize they aren't even making minimum wage.

Sometimes it's totally worth it - you need a custom stand alone on a major budget.
Sometimes it's not - you need a 3+book series with paperback and promo material that you can add on to later.

You'll have the safest bet working with a professional who's been able to stay in business for awhile - quite a few years even, and know the risks when you go with the cheaper guys.

But don't ask them to break their license agreements to compensate, and don't go with the designers who are willing to do this. If not having your PSD files to alter later makes you nervous, imagine having all of your covers/ads pulled by a legal DMCA takedown notice when those breached licenses get revoked. Oh, and all of those buddies who recommended the artist get theirs taken down too. Not good. THAT should concern you.

Go with someone who cares about you and the future of your covers - because your business success is intertwined. Someone who isn't willing to put you or other clients at risk even if it means the frustration of having to turn down a request. Cover designers are in customer service, and it breaks our heart when we can't do something you want us to. So ask for the clean JPG and PNG text if you must, but don't ask for the PSD files.  :)

Writers' Cafe / Re: What do Authors want from Book Cover designers
« on: July 12, 2017, 12:47:32 PM »
And that's perfectly fine, but then I can't / won't use them.  I'd be happy to register the fonts and stock in my name to avoid that issue. But short of getting a PSD file I can modify at a later date, I can't justify the cost of a designer. Now, that said, I took the time to learn photoshop so I can get by. I understand why most folks have to just take what the designer is willing to give them. 

So to OP's post in terms of what I want, that's big one :)

The scary part about this is, so many authors don't realize the risk they are asking cover designers to take when they want the PSD files. Just having the author "register" the font and images does not make this practice legal. It is a MAJOR breech of licensing contract.

If this illegal practice is found out, not only will the cover made for you become unusable, the designer faces fines and all of the prior work used with that company becomes nil and void, ie unusable. So you're asking them to risk themselves, all of their prior clients and you, just for the convenience of not going back to them for future work and adjustments.

I get that a lot of cover artists disappear. So many of them pop up at cheap rates and great designs. They get overwhelmed and can't make a livable wage. Then they understandably quit. If you take the time to find a reliable designer that has been around for years, pay them what they are worth, then you don't have to deal with them disappearing.

**It is worth noting that a flattened JPG and rasterized text is the only legal way to send PSD files in this case. And at that point you could just send the JPG and PNG file over instead. It's basically same thing and smaller files to email.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Pre-mades and Custom Designs by Jacqueline Sweet
« on: July 06, 2017, 11:32:56 AM »
Beautiful typography!

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